This project built quietly in the lee of other higher-profile Midnight Picture Show films - adapted and directed by John Harrison from the book-end stories to Clive's Books of Blood, the Scottish shoot progressed well through December 2007 into the New Year. Joe Daley has been in the producer's chair and you might keep an eye out for a certain Mr Bradley briefly in front of the cameras (as Tollington) together with Sophie Ward (Dr Mary Florescu), Jonas Armstrong (Simon McNeal) and Simon Bamford (Derek). Following exposure at the 2008 European Film Market, and the successful completion of the FX shoot in London the film was completed and we enjoyed seeing a full print in August 2008 shortly after a teaser of the first 10 minutes was shown at Frightfest in London...
Ahead of its North American theatrical premiere at Canada's Fantasia film festival in July 2009, John Harrison had spoken candidly about looking for a non-theatrical release for the movie which had a cable launch on SyFy just a few days before its DVD / Blu-ray release on 29 September 2009. The film will also screen, alongside Dread, at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain 9 October 2009.
The UK DVD / Blu-ray release is set for 26 October 2009 at £13.99 / £19.99 but with no extras currently listed...
"There was a man called John Harrison, who did Children of Dune for Sci-Fi channel and a bunch of other movies, and who has just done a really smart version of the bookend tale from The Books of Blood; it's really very, very good."
Sowing The Seeds Of The Story Tree
By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 28 August and 4 September 2006 (note - full text here)
"I don't believe a movie's a go movie until all the money is in the bank... but if everything is set then the movie will have been shot by Christmas. You know, we'll be back over here editing.
"It still remains the dream, my hope, if we get to make a lot of these movies, to package them up so that we will have a lot of the Books of Blood as full-length movies. John Harrison's doing the Book of Blood - the Ur story, the root story - you know the story of an older woman's love for a young trickster and it's just the right kind of story - and we have a concept for the dead, for the ghosts, which is without precedent..."
Hellfire And The Demonation
By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 7 September 2007 (note - full text here)
"John did a superb piece of work with the expansion and reinvention of the story, because it is really very simple. He filled it out, gave it meat and deepened the characters. My understanding is that we're looking at shooting it in Glasgow, which is wonderful. It's great that we should be going back to Britain, that [the] house where the dead walk, where the highways of the dead converge, should be situated in one of the bleaker cities. It's perfect!"
Gone And Back Again
By Carnell, Fangoria, No 268, November 2007
"The Book of Blood is being shot right now in Scotland. I'm thinking that'll probably be out at the end of this year. The guy who plays the English 'Robin Hood,' which you get on BBC Britain, plays the kid who lies about the ghosts he's seeing. And the ghosts take revenge on him by writing their stories on his body."
Barker Talks About His Baby 'Hellraiser' On Its Birthday
By Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune, 11 January 2008
"[I'm heading] to London to help with the final week of shooting for The Book of Blood, the original story from the first book, which we've made and is just knockout. It's killer. And we'll shoot that and then hopefully have that out by this time next year."
The Wildclaw Clive Barker Interview
By Charlie Athanas, Wildclaw Theatre.com, 4 March 2008 (note: full text online at www.wildclawtheater.com)
[Re. relaxed atmosphere on-set] "That's one of the reasons why I like John so much, not just as a director but as a human being, you know, that's his style. He is very low-key, he's not a dramatic fellow, he just gets on with it. Once in a while you'll catch a little bit of tension in his voice because he's unhappy but it's very seldom. You know, the days were all made and the shots were got and I think a fine time was had by all...
"[Jonas Armstrong's] performance was extremely brave, he dropped trou with no problem, very believable and very sexy, without trying too hard, you know? None of that phoney stuff you get in Hollywood... And I had dinner at Grouchos on the last night, just before I left London, with Sophie Ward and what a sweet and charming woman she was, so that was great."
Pivotal Voices: Was, Is And Will Be
By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 11 April 2008 (note - full text here)
"It was very important that we had two performers who were fearless, in terms of not being afraid of exposing their feelings or their skins and we were blessed, let me tell you. We have two, firstly, exquisitely beautiful young people, and two people who have been absolutely fearless in terms of what they've presented to the camera. I doubt that there is a sexier horror movie out there...
"I'm very aware that Mary also has something in common with [Hellraiser's] Julia, that is she's a woman who has a completely dysfunctional love life and is reaching out to the comfort of somebody who she can trust and love, even though he's a cheat and a liar. I think that's kind of interesting... and it'll be interesting to see Doug in the movie. Obviously, for myself, it's fun to have people who I love and I've worked with over a long period still be connected with things that we're doing together, even though we might not necessarily be in the same place."
Dyed In The Flesh
By Paul Kane, Rue Morgue, No 81, August 2008
John Harrison : "I'm about to start an adaptation of one of his Books of Blood stories for a series of movies that they're making... Book of Blood. I'm going to do the first one. We're going to turn that into a movie which I hope to direct. Clive and I have been looking for ways to keep working with one another. He was very happy with the adaptation of Abarat, and I was happy that he was happy."
John Harrison (Effects)
By Devin Faraci, Cinematic Happenings Under Development, 6 November 2005 (Note: full text online at www.chud.com)
John Harrison : "We had become friends through the Abarat process and [Clive] liked my Dune mini-series a whole lot, so we started talking about why did I do one of these. So I have taken the first and the last short stories of the books of blood collection and I've turned them into one movie called Clive Barker's Books of Blood. The screenplay is finished, we're putting the financing together, and I'm hopeful that we'll be in production after I finish George's movie.
"[Clive]'d be one of the producers, of course. He has been reading every step of the way the drafts of the script that I co-wrote with another young writer named Darren Silverman. He's very excited about it, and he will be involved creatively. Even though I will be directing, he'll be the go to guy."
Producer John Harrison Talks To iF About Romero's Diary Of The Dead - Part One
By Sean Elliott, iF Magazine, 1 September 2006 (Note: full text online at http://ifmagazine.com)
John Harrison : "The shoot is going very well, and the cast is all British - although our lead, Sophie Ward, is playing her part as an American. The male lead is Jonas Armstrong, who is a rising star in the UK; he has previously headlined the BBC series Robin Hood. There could also be a surprise in the works for the character of Wyburd... but more on that later."
Director's Update: Barker Book Of Blood Film
By Callum Wadell, Fangoria.com, 10 January 2008 (Note: full text online at www.fangoria.com)
John Harrison : "We are finishing Book of Blood in London as I write this, and I expect it will be released in early '09. I'm really proud of it...
"It has its moments, but it is not a gore-fest. It is more of a supernatural thriller à la The Others, or The Orphanage. Very moody. Very character driven. We screened a preview of the first ten minutes at the Frightfest Festival here in London last week. It's the big U.K. horror festival, and thousands of fans come from all over the U.K., the U.S. and Europe. It went over really well. Big applause. So fingers crossed...
"We took the book-end stories from his collection, Book of Blood and On Jerusalem Street, and merged them into one story. As with any adaptation, there are details that must be adjusted and often changed somewhat, but I have always tried to honour the essence of the source material. After all, it's the reason I would get involved in the first place. Clive read the script, and now he's seen the movie, and he's very happy with the translation. So I guess I can't ask for a better endorsement than that."
Writer-Director John Harrison Fills A Blank Slate And Opens Clive Barker's Book Of Blood
By Carl Cortez, iF Magazine, 4 September 2008 (Note: full text online at www.ifmagazine.com)
John Harrison : "Book of Blood has been compared to Hellraiser - I'm not exactly sure why, it's a very different story. I happen to love Hellraiser, so it's not deliberate on my part to try and mimic that movie. I'd say, if anything, what I was really trying to do was mimic the kinds of movies that I grew up on that were more based on suspense and tension and atmospherics than on in-your-face horror: movies like the Val Newton movies or Robert Wise's The Haunting. I guess you could say maybe some of the contemporary analogies would be The Others or The Orphanage. But I suppose because it takes place in a single house and the third floor happens to be the portal to the other side that there are comparisons. And then, of course, Doug Bradley's in it, so there's a link...
"Once we decided we were going to shoot in London, it was almost a no-brainer: I had to go talk to Doug and see if he'd be in the movie. His schedule didn't permit him to do anything too extensive but there's a great role, the character of Tollington, who's the character that owned the house where all the bad stuff happens and he was the medium that kind of brought it all to life. Doug was very interested in doing that role and it's quite an interesting little set-piece that he's in."
Fantasia 2009 Interview With John Harrison
By Eric S. Boisvert, Fangoria.com, 15 July 2009 (Note: full video online at www.fangoria.com)
Doug Bradley : "It's set in the present day, but I play a character called Tollington who has been dead for pretty much a century. He was an occultist who occupied the house in Tollington Place (mentioned in Clive's original story). It's a brief but memorable appearance and I'm looking forward to it. I was up there yesterday for a photo shoot (for portrait and newspaper article which appear elsewhere in the movie) and in discussion with the make-up department, agreed that my current cut does not sell the period and so we agreed to shave my head completely. It works too, because any similarities between Tollington and a certain Aleister Crowley would not be at all inappropriate..."
Doug In The Book Of Blood Movie!
By Doug Bradley, Message board post at Doug Bradley.co.uk, 3 December 2007 (Note: full post online at www.dougbradley.co.uk)
John Harrison : "Well, I'll be honest about it, it's done but it's struggling. It turned out well and I'm very happy with it, but my timing was impeccable as I finished it just when the stock market crashed. Right now, we're looking at a possible network TV deal with a DVD sale to follow, which is fine as that's where the film would play most successfully anyway. I was actually hoping for a limited theatrical release first, like we had with Diary [Of The Dead], but it's been tough. At this stage the financial people are driving the train and they don't have the luxury to hold out for a better deal or they'll be out millions."
John Harrison Talks Book Of Blood And Composing The Score For George Romero's ...Of The Dead
By Chris Alexander, Chris Alexander's Blood-Spattered Blog, 3 March 2009 (Note: full text online at www.fangoria.com)
John Harrison : "There can't be a worse time, economically, to open an independent horror film in the U.S. than now, so we will instead do a major cable launch on Sci-Fi around September. We hope to get the movie on a few big screens before then, but it's tough."
Barker's Book Of Blood Going To Sci Fi
By Patrice Rose, Fangoria.com, 29 April 2009 (Note: full text online at www.fangoriaonline.com)
Paul Gardner (Co-President, Lightning Media) : "Adding four new commercial films [including Book of Blood] to our slate puts the company in a strong position for the next six quarters. It's obvious that we are striving to assemble a diverse slate that hits broad audiences. With these titles, we think we have acomplished that."
Lightning Acquires US Rights To Four Titles
By Jeremy Kay, Screen Daily.com, 15 May 2009 (Note: full text online at www.screendaily.com)